I originally heard this new release in its raw format three years ago now and was surprised by the laidback feel of it….wow, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band playing a front bar pub type of gig to 25 people….how cool to have seen that? I didn’t even know they did that sort of thing
There’s plenty of on/off stage banter, some jamming and tune ups; it was a nice surprise and refreshing to hear a recording of one of my favourite bands playing in a different situation and early on in their development. This recording joined some of the dots in the band’s history (no they didn’t just appear out of nowhere as this blindingly amazing live band – it took years and plenty of gigs) and fleshes these guys out as players.
Tracking the post-Sonic’s Rendezvous Band career of Detroit’s rocking rhythm and blues man, Scott Morgan, gets a little easier next month with the release of three of his solo band albums on a double CD.
UK label Easy Action (who else?) will release the “Scots Pirates”, “Revolutionary Means” and “Rock Action” LPs in re-mastered form as “Revolutionary Action” on October 20.
The 38-song collection will be encased in the usual top-shelf packaging with a bonus cut, the hard-to-find cover version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Can You See Me?”
2. New Rock Syndicate Masami Kawaguchi from Tokyo graced us with his stunning soul again this year. Please refer to everything Penny Ikinger said in her Top 10. This gentleman is the most startling, perfect and inspiring guitarist I have ever seen and a true darling of a human being. Eternally grateful to have met him. Look at anything he has done, please. You’re welcome.
3. The Kids Are Alright You know when you’re 32 and you think rocknroll has probably hit its comfortable slippers and pipe phase, and will be unlikely to return to what you’ve felt it to be in your life. Then you get to 39 etc. and realise ashamedly that you were very wrong. About most things, pretty much everything - it is an experience that spans generations, and is one of the many joys of ageing.
So many “young people” (definition pending, vomit pooling in throat) made music that blew my tiny mind out of my ears this year. Please pay attention to a band called Cable Ties, and one called Stiff Richards. Important, incendiary, vital, nasty, gorgeous, respectful, clumsy, intricate, hot, cold and wild. You may select which adjective attaches to which band yourself - like a choose your own adventure! God, this one has been bloody ridiculous, I’m sorry and you’re welcome.
This recording is where it all started for recent Sonic’s Rendezvous Band fans. Originally issued in 1998 as “Sweet Nothing”, it was the first non-bootleg, live recording that stood up, sonically speaking, and both the CD and LP pressings sold out quickly.
A second disc of live and tweaked studio stuff (“City Slang”) surfaced a year later and we’ve been fairly spoiled with a flow of material since then.
“Sweet Nothing” was an ear-opener in all senses of the term. No longer did you need to listen to “Strikes Like Lightning” or any of the other lamentably poor quality boots and ponder why nobody in Detroit in the mid-‘70s owned a boombox with a decent microphone.
The steady stream of releases peaked with Easy Action’s lavish 2006 “Sonic’s Rendezvous Band” box set, a six-disc CD collection that included rehearsals, other live recordings and a spruced-up version of this show. Now, this vinyl release has arrived as part of the annual Record Store Day hoopla.
On March 17, 1978, Bookie's Club 870 became Detroit's answer to New York's C.B.G.B., The Whisky A-Go-Go in L.A., and London's Marquee Club.
Bookie's hosted shows by The Police, Iggy Pop, J. Geils, The Damned, Ultravox, The Dead Boys and many other international punk and new wave performers.
It also served as a home base for Detroit area bands like The Sillies, The Romantics, Gang War and former MC5 and Stooges members like Ron Asheton, Michael Davis, Fred Smith and their then-current bands, Destroy All Monsters and Sonic's Rendezvous Band.
At least three live albums have been released of Bookie's concerts and a new two-record set of Iggy Pop's six-day residency is now being released on Easy Action in the UK. The book "Detroit Rock City" chronicles the Bookie's days through the eyes of people who were there.
The Bookie's 40th Anniversary Reunion will be held on Saturday, March 17 (St. Patrick's Day) at the New Way Bar on Woodward, Detroit, roughly three miles north of the original Bookie's. Admission is FREE. There will be posters and photos on display that night as well as live performances from The Sillies (who started the club) and members of R.U.R., Coldcock and other surprise guests.
What do you think we’d say? Sonic’s Rendezvous Band was truly The One That Got Away. It’s a crime they weren’t signed, recorded and backed to the hilt by a major label and elevated to a household name, but rock and roll is seldom fair. That’s why you need to hear everything you can of this great lost band.
Never heard outside a small circle of alumni and fans, this short but sweet five-song set comes from the January 14,1978 show, on the undercard to the Ramones and the Runaways at the Masonic Temple in Detroit. Maybe.
The opening act was un-billed and surviving band members (that would be Gary and Scott) can’t agree that they played it. All but one song (“City Slang”) has remained in the vaults and the label thought it had issued the gig as part of its splendid box set. But that disc wasn’t even from one entire show, if that makes sense.
Gang War at Second Chance in Ann Arbor in 1979. Sue Rynski photo
It’s said the drummer in a rock and roll band has the best seat in the house. It’s given John Morgan his unique perspective on some of rock and roll’s most talented, fascinating and sometimes flawed characters.
Now living in Ventura, California, John Morgan’s spent half his life as a professional musician, playing with a long list of blues and jazz bands. But it’s his insights into two in particular: Gang War and Sonic's Rendezvous Band - the former as a partcipant, thw latter as an observer - that will hold the most interest for I-94 Bar patrons.
Here's huge news for fans of Sonic's Rendezvous Band. The first re-issues from The Hydromatics’ back catalogue on UK label Easy Action are ready for pre-order.
The Hydromatics were a ‘90s trans-Atlantic supergroup of sorts, fronted by Scott Morgan (Sonic's Rendezvous Band, The Rationals) and reprising material by Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, as well as fresh originals. Their original line-up included Nicke Royale of Sweden’s Helllacopters and Dutchman Tony Slug (The Nitwitz) and they toured Europe extensively.
This is a band that had power to burn that shone a fresh light on Sonic's Rendezvous Band by doing justice in the studio to material that we'd only heard on dodgy bootlegs.
‘The Hydromatics” is a re-mastered CD version of the group's debut record, “Parts Unknown”, with a stack of live tracks.
“Dangerous” is a LP (with free CD) of studio versions of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band classics like Asteroid B612, Electrophonic Tonic and City Slang. The 10-track LP is supplemented by “Do It Again”, “Mystically Yours” and “Power and The Glory” on the bonus CD. Get them here.
Long spoken of and heard by few, this batch of tapes documenting the short but worthy lifespan of Scott Morgan’s post Rationals band Guardian Angel (later known as Lightnin’) has seen the light of day at last. It’s a righteous addition to a starry back catalogue.
What is it about Michigan rock bands releasing debut albums 30 years after they were regularly working the live circuit? The Ramrods did it a few years back and The Seatbelts, now well and truly reformed, continue in the same vein. Contemporaries of the similarly non-prolific Sonic's Rendezvous Band, they've unleashed "Joy Ride" onto an unsuspecting public with rock and roll seemingly in its death throes. Maybe, just in the nick of time.
The last non-sellout in a line of powerful, soulful, R&B-influenced rock singers from the '60s, Scott Morgan's had a lot of notoriety the last few years, since the world of Rockdom at large belatedly discovered the joys of Sonic's Rendezvous Band, the late-seventies Dee-troit "supergroup" that he fronted in tandem with (and later in opposition to) ex-MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith.
Some bands defy objective assessment and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band is one of them. So let’s not even try to pretend.
How can you be objective about a band that issued just one single in its lifetime when it happens to be “City Slang”, inarguably the greatest rock and roll seven-inch of all time? Can you really question the worth of a band whose lineage is former MC5, Rationals, Stooges and The Up members?
In which the complete recorded works of the 1980s and ‘90s are compiled on one double CD set, spanning 38 tracks.
You have to give it to Easy Action. They know how to package a legacy. And Scott Morgan, of course, has had lots of legacy to restore.
Michigan’s Best Kept Musical Secret had been around the metaphorical block a few times by the time the ‘80s rolled around, but up until that point his bands hadn’t produced many recordings. If he hadn’t invented blue-eyed soul, Morgan played a big part in its arrival in the '60s when front-man for Ann Arbor’s Rationals who took a detour into soulful, pastoral-flecked psych before running out of steam.
After the run of great records with The Solution, Powertrane and The Hydromatics, Scott Morgan thought it was time to make a solo album. Thus the former singer and guitarist of the legendary Sonic's Rendezvous Band (and even before that, The Rationals) gathered around him some of the most respected musicians of the Motor City and pulled out an album that oozes black music and emotions out from every note.
After serious ill-health, Detroit rock and soul legend Scott Morgan (The Rationals, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band) is returning to regular live shows with a new album in the throes of being written.
Morgan fell ill with liver disease a couple of years ago but has undergone extensive treatment. He still needs to manage his health but has bounced back this year to play a couple of shows with the well regarded soulful rockers The Sights as his backing band.
The loudest sound you’ll hear on this is the bottom of the barrel being scraped.
The intentions were probably sound. Assembling a collection of previously unheard works-in-progress by the man who was a driving force in rock and roll’s most criminally under-recognised band makes perfect sense.
Provided the raw material you have is bountiful and of premium grade.
A Stooges Asthma Attack at th Grande Ballroom in1968. Robert Matheu photo.
The year 2006 was something of a watershed for fans of high-energy rock and roll of the Detroit variety. The reformed Stooges were in full flight and an historic six-CD, eponymous Sonic's Rendezous Band box set came out on UK label Easy Action.
The box set's executive producer of the box was ROBERT MATHEU, a Detroit-raised and former Creem magazine staff photographer. Sadly, Robert passed away in 2018, but a dozen years before, he told the back-story of the box set to the I-94 Bar - and of course regaled us with stories about the MC5 and the Stooges.
We're revisiting many of the stories originally published on the I-94 Bar that were archived when we moved virtual location a few years ago. This is one of the trips back in The Time Tunnel.
Guitarist Dylan Webster from Newcastle band The Fools
In the early ‘90s, raw and tough rock and roll was supposedly being re-birthed. Grunge had ushered in The Year That Punk Broke and the mainstream was finally embracing music that wasn’t safe and bland. Yeah. Right.
In reality, Real Rock and Roll was still fighting. The tidal wave that was the MP3 was about to arrive in earnest but the only game in town, as far as The Industry was concerned, was Grunge, a sludgy offspring of heavy metal and punk that promised little and (mostly) delivered less.
Too harsh? A lot of fine and worthy bands were trampled under the rush by major labels to sign any act with tuned-down guitars wearing flannelette shirts. It didn’t matter if their songs mostly remained the same; the big label A & R men couldn’t see past their own shaggy fringes.
Like Newton used to say, every action produces an equal and opposite reaction. In Australia, a fresh wave of high-energy acts like Powder Monkeys, Asteroid B612, Brother Brick, the YesMen and Bored! were kicking against the pricks and doing things their own way. A lesser light from the industrial port city of Newcastle, two hours north of Sydney, created their own ripples.